Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Learn How to Vacuum Sushi without Destroying it


Learn how to vacuum sushi without destroying it!

A little history
Sushi is a Japanese food consisting of rice, raw fish, seaweed and vegetables. Sometimes chefs also use fruits in the preparation of their sushi. In Japan, Sushi making is considered to be an art and it takes many years of practice and dedicated labor to master the art of Sushi making.

Sushi making is considered an art because the appearance and presentation of a plate of Sushi is as important as the taste.

What differentiates a good sushi from a perfect sushi is for many master sushi makers, the rice. Sushi rice must be firm but not gluey or mushy. The rice must be cooked but still have a crunchy like texture and every rice kernel should have the ability to stick together. On top of all that, every rice kernel must be shiny like they have individually been polished.

Sushi is still a pad of rice with a slice of raw fish but the impeccable rice, appearance and presentation on a plate, brand Sushi making an art and sets good Sushi apart from the perfect Sushi.

Originally Sushi was invented as a way to preserve raw fish. Thin slices of fish were layered between rice and salt, a weight was placed on top until the fish fermented. That was before refrigeration existed.  
Somewhere in the 18th century a Tokyo based chef, Yohei Hanaya, came with the idea to forget about fermenting the fish and started serving Sushi the way we are all familiar with.  

In Japan there are no less than 101 different varieties of Sushi and Sushi is a 14 Billion (USD) industry in Japan alone. Sushi is made with raw fish, cooked fish, vegetables and also meat. Well known varieties of Sushi are those with slices of tuna and salmon on top of rice. 

Sushi Maki

The rolled –up version, ‘Sushi Maki’, with cucumber and avocado is familiar to many as well, together with the ever popular California roll.

Making Sushi

You may be tempted now wanting to try making your own Sushi. The key as explained is the rice. With a sharp knife we can all get thin slices from a cut of salmon or tuna, but make no mistake cutting the fish correctly is an art as well. But let us stick to the rice for now.

To make the rice you need:
  • 326 grams short grain rice cooker cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1. Wash the rice thoroughly and very carefully at the same time not to break any kernels.

2. When the rice is free of excess starch and the water is not cloudy anymore, drain and place in a rice cooker.

3. Add the water and let the rice cooker do its work. If you do not have a rice cooker, cook the rice on low heat in a covered stockpot but be careful not to burn the rice.

4. When the rice is cooked, allow it to steam- up for ten minutes, so do not remove the cover before these ten minutes have passed.

5. While the rice is cooking, combine the other ingredients making sure the sugar has dissolved. You can warm the mix in a microwave a bit if the sugar does not dissolve well.

6. Spread the cooked rice over a flat surface, a wide based bowl is best.

7. Call somebody to help you! You need to add the vinegar mix, ladle it carefully through and fan the rice, by hand, at the same time and you only have two hands.

8. The fanning is important, it helps to let the excess liquid evaporate with that you get a nice polished shine.

9. The Sushi rice is now ready for use.

10. Form a bit of the rice in an oblong shape in the palm of your hand and top with a piece of your favorite fish.

Here's the secret of vacuuming Sushi:

Most likely you have some left over rice. Vacuum the rice and freeze it for a next round of homemade Sushi.

Presumably you will have some fish leftovers as well and no immediate intended use for it. Vacuum the fish and freeze. It will stay in tip top condition for another round of Sushi this way.

In case you have used vegetables, most likely that must have been cucumber and avocado, well they do not freeze very well so I advise to add them to a salad served with dinner.

This is the perfect way to vacuum Sushi. 

When it comes to the ‘Great looking Fresh Sushi’ you made. 
Do not vacuum those.

Eat them as fresh as possible in honor of the….    ‘Art of Sushi making’.    

By: Marinus Hoogendoorn            

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ideas what to Cook with Local Market Produce.



Some Ideas what to Cook from the Local Market Goodies

When you have decided to give local produce a chance you may well come home with lots of great stuff from the local market. 
Bags full of sweet tomatoes, white and green asparagus, peaches and apricots are waiting to be turned into great dishes to delight the family.

It is a good plan to start your retort program as well so you have lots of pouches with summer ingredients on hand for when the market closes when winter is nearing. You can refer to my earlier posts about pouch retort from the side bar on the right.

In the meantime I give you a few ‘easy to make’, yet incredible tasting recipes that the whole family will enjoy.

For starters:

 Use green asparagus for an appetizing light green color in this recipe. 

Asparagus soup:         Serves 4


2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium sized onion (roughly chopped)
14 oz green asparagus (cut into small pieces)
18 oz chicken stock (homemade if possible)
4 tbsp double cream
salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat the oil in a double based stock pot, add the onions and fry on medium heat until softened. 
  • Add the asparagus and fry for another minute, mixing well. 
  • Add the stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  • Transfer the mix to an upright blender. Add half of the double cream and blend smooth. 
  • Return the soup to the stock pot and bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Serve the soup in individual bowls garnished with the remaining half of the double cream and slices of crusty bread. 

For Mains:

Traditionally, Bolognaise sauce, that lovely deep red/ brown color of good tasting beef sauce, is served with Tagliatelle 

Here is a great, ‘Italian chefs association’ approved recipe. 


Tagliatelle Bolognaise:           Serves 4                                                        
2 tbsp olive oil 6 rashes streaky ‘pancetta’ (cut in ¼ inch strips)         
2 large onions (chopped) 
3 cloves fresh garlic (chopped) 
2 medium sized carrot (diced) 
1 stalk celery (cut the same size as the carrot) 
2 lbs lean minced beef 
2 glasses red wine 
2 lbs fresh tomatoes 
2 nos bay leaves 
1 ½ Lbs dry tagliatelle (quantity is a guide, make as much as your family eats)
Salt and pepper to taste and grated Parmesan for serving.

  • Heat the oil in a double base skillet. Add the pancetta and fry on medium heat until browned. 
  • Add the onion and garlic and fry for another 2 minutes. 
  • Add the minced beef and bay leaves and continue frying until the beef has browned. 
  • Add the diced carrot and celery, mix well 
  • Add the wine and reduce the quantity by cooking for 5 minutes. 
  • Add your tomatoes, bring to boil and season the mix with salt and pepper. 
  • Cook the tagliatelle according to the cooking instructions on the packaging. (for dry pasta this is usually 9 to 10 minutes) 
  • Divide the pasta over individual plates, top with a generous grating of parmesan and a good ladle of Bolognaise sauce. 
  • Grate some more parmesan over the top and serve hot. 

For Dessert:

This deep dish peach pie makes a great finish to this menu.

Deep Dish Peach Pie                                                                 


For the dough:

2 cups all- purpose flour
½ tsp salt 
1 tsp cinnamon powder 
3 tsp sugar 
8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick, cold and cut into small pieces) 
8 tbsp vegetable shortening 
2 egg yolks 
1 egg white (slightly whisked) 
1 tbsp sugar

For the filling:

3 lbs peaches (cut into wedges) 1 tbsp lemon juice 1cup sugar pinch of salt ¼ cup instant tapioca 4 tbsp corn starch

  • Place flour, cinnamon, salt and 3 Tbsp sugar in a food processor, pulse for a few seconds. 
  • Add the pieces of butter, pulse until you get a crumble like texture. 
  • Add the shortening and egg yolks and pulse until a dough forms. 
  • Remove from the processor. Work the dough a bit until it all comes together. 
  • Cover with cling film and rest for ½ an hour. 
Mix all ingredients and leave to stand for ½ an hour, mixing it around a few times.

Making the pie:
  • Divide the dough in half and roll one half about 1 ½ inches bigger than a 9 inch deep dish pan. 
  • Line the pan with aluminum foil or baking paper, place the dough on top. Ensure the edges are a bit outside the pan. 
  • Add the peach filling. Slightly wet the edges with a brush. 
  • Roll the other half of the dough and place on top. 
  • Press the bottom and top of the dough together with the help of a fork. 
  • Brush the top of the pie with the whisked egg white and sprinkle the remaining sugar. 
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 F for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 F and continue baking for 40 minutes. 
  • Remove the pie from the oven and cool. 
  • Remove the pie from the pan and cut into slices. 
  • If liked you can serve this pie slightly warmed with some powdered sugar on top and a scoop of ice cream.
Enjoy your local market products in this great ‘feast’ dinner.

When you are out of or in need of retort pouches find them here:

Recipes by Marinus Hoogendoorn

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How can you Benefit from Local Foods and the Local Food Movement


How can you Benefit from Local Foods and the Local Food Movement

Some facts:

There is a good healthy frenzy going around in the food world as a collaborative effort to build more locally based self reliant food economies. One in which local food production, processing, distribution and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place or geographical area.

I strongly support the idea where small entrepreneurs work hand in hand with local communities to promote their carefully produced products to an offset market not too far from their home base.

A United States department of Agriculture publication describes local food as “related to the distance between producers and consumers” as well as “defined in terms of social and supply chain characteristics”. The second part of this description is much more significant for the producers and consumers than the first part, because ultimately you decide how far you wish to travel to buy the produce you want.

The consumers approach:

What I like about the whole idea? It brings the consumer a significant step closer to the food chains. How food is produced, how derivatives from certain produce is made, think cheese and honey.
Why producers believe in organic produce, grass fed livestock and why they believe in a ‘free roaming’ environment for animals.

We should all believe in the relationship between people, earth and food. That is what we eat and what we eat is our health. The understanding that healthy produced sustainable food can ultimately bring about change, to people, to communities and to the earth as a whole,

It needs to be noted that not all produce labeled as local is sustainable, industrial produce and marketed within the geographical radius which is considered ‘local’ should not but can be labeled as sustainable. Producers that market real sustainable produce play therefore a big role in the local self reliant food economies. It is them that open their doors to the consumers and give insight to what sustainable local produce is all about.

Various programs have been established to promote local produce and more and more people in various communities support healthy produced and sustainable produce. There are the farmers markets to visit and get acquainted with a wide array of local produce. Another program exists where communities buy a part of the production of a particular farm and in some cases you can harvest produce left behind on a field and harvest yourself. The choice is yours.

Health benefits:

Food safety, health and nutrition are important considerations for consumers to decide why they should choose the local farmers market above a supermarket.

High levels of food production lead to increased use of chemicals to keep foods ‘fresh’ for a longer period of time necessary to process, store and transport. Small amounts of food borne bacteria can lead to disastrous consequences in these consolidated environments.

Long distance transportation systems require fuel which in return produces high levels of emissions, bad for the environment as a whole.
Local produce direct from farms do not require these practices and a different (correct) approach by the producers has health and nutrition in mind. Fruit ripens better and with more nutritional value on the mother plant, the fruit can be harvested close to peak ripening time.

Variety farming, smaller quantities per variety, result in produce with higher nutritional value by virtue of their variety in comparison to crops only produced for high yields. Grass fed beef is higher in good cholesterol (lower in bad) and higher in vitamin A and E, lower in fat and contain more antioxidants than factory produced beef.

Sustainable foods also use less (or no) pesticides, antibiotics and hormones commonly used in high production farming.

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States says that “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life”. Well that sums it all up.

The overall advantage:

The local food movement is, as evidence indicates, an economy booster for local communities. They are more likely to spend their dollars on farm related investments locally than the large scale manufacturers.
What is in for the consumer? Meeting your neighbor at the farmers market is good for your social life. Share the experiences you had with local produce. Buddy shop if a seasonal product is too much for you to handle. 

Pre-prepare and vacuum for even longer shelf life.

Ultimately it all comes down to one, very important part of our daily life:

Good tasting nutritious, healthy, hearty food and our health.  

Find a vacuum sealer that suits your needs here:  or

Written for PMG by Marinus Hoogendoorn


Thursday, May 8, 2014

CHEF TALK, Learn How to Save Money with Bulk Buying and Long Term Food Storage.


Learn How to $ave Money with Bulk Buying and Long Term Food Storage

We all like to save money, to some of us the ‘Buck Thrill’ is a way of life. Couponing is one favorite, takes a lot of time and being organized but it pays off. The fact is we do not all have the time to cut coupons and go to stores where the coupons are on offer at that particular time.

How to buy in bulk

Another good one is buying in bulk. This can be the ultimate bang for you. The warehouse type of stores are getting more and more “small” customer friendly and better still, they have quality stuff. Problem arises, what should I do with a 10 pound jar of pickles, there are only two of us in my house hold.
Well, you just have to be smart about ‘bulk’ buying and then these warehouse stores will work for you.


First of all make a decent shopping list, if possible plan a weekly menu (or at least have some recipes on hand before you walk through those doors). Discipline yourself when you shop. With that, you do not overbuy and come home with all sorts of stuff you do not need.

       Buddy shop, go Dutch with a friend, family member, neighbor or colleague and share things that are too much to handle for your family.  
This works definitely for dry goods like toilet paper and multi packed smaller packaging (24 small packets of nuts in a big plastic bag). But how about large meat cuts you would normally avoid buying. Best 'to be vacuumed' money saver. The 7 or 8 Lbs strip loin below can be transformed into 24 or 25 great steaks in no time. Vacuum share, freeze and save money!  

Make sure to shop with an ordinary shopping cart, these flat bed carts cheat your eyes, even the biggest packaging looks small on those things.
Go with the treasure hunt idea in mind. This is what I like and this is what I am going to cook with. Share your ideas with your buddy shopper and share the purchase. 

It works for him.....
Learn about new ingredients and how they can work for you. This is a great way to explore new foods, healthy and nutritious produce that you would normally stay away from.

There was a time that the thought of buying meats in a warehouse store would make ones stomach coil. Not anymore, times change and these bulk stores are an excellent place to buy top quality meats. If you do not see what you are looking for, ask. Bulk stores are realizing that people are interested in cooking with local and seasonal ingredients.

Money savers

And then there is another great money saver. It is your vacuum sealer. Why? You just read the answer, your bulk buying pays of even more with the help of your vacuum sealer.
Studies reveal that that you may save up to $ 2.700.00 per year with the help of your vacuum sealer. 
Find them here:

One of the best aspects of storing vacuum sealed foods is that it is extremely economical. Vacuum sealed foods last 3 to 5 times longer than ordinary packet fresh foods.  As a result the food maintains its color texture and appearance longer. Further, because vacuum sealed foods can last longer, you can buy in bulk, ‘save money’ and re-pack in the portion size that suits you.
Bring this to your advantage and make menu planning, buddy shopping and idea exchange a fun thing. Larger packing sizes are no concern anymore, vacuum and freeze perishables. Freezer burn is eliminated because vacuum packed food does not come in direct contact with the cold air in the freezer.

Advantages of vacuuming                                                                    

No more issues

Dry foods, such as brown sugar that you do not use on a daily basis, do not become hard because there is no air to absorb the moisture.    
Insect infestation is eliminated in the flour and sugar you bought in bulk.
The pores in fresh protein foods, meats and fish, open up when vacuumed. This allows better marinating and faster marinating times.
Less air in packaging will give you better organized storage options.

Some problems may arise when vacuuming liquids. Here are two tips to avoid that.

  • 1      Freeze the product in a vacuum bag, then seal. The seal will prevent air from entering the bag.
  • 2      Leave products like ready cooked meals and sauces to chill overnight. They will get a much firmer consistency. Many sauces will even gel up. When you vacuum the chilled products you will get the desired result.

Your money saver


To conclude: Vacuum sealing your food and non-food preps is an economical and extremely effective way to save money and maintain a varied pantry. If you plan to use this method of saving money, prolonging the shelf –life of products and buddy shopping, I assure you a fast return of investment in a good quality vacuum sealer.   

By: Marinus Hoogendoorn

Monday, May 5, 2014

CHEF TALK, How to Cook Easy, Great Meals on a Camping Trip.



  How to cook easy, great meals on a camping trip 

Camping is a great popular outdoor recreational activity for the whole family. The time of the year is approaching to check your camping gear and look for an exciting destination to explore and conquer. Outdoor activities while camping are fun and can be electrifying, the kids will talk about swimming in creeks and lakes, hiking and watching bears for weeks prior to departure.

One of the most exhilarating experiences must be a meal around an open campfire, away from the regular dinner table and the everyday plate’s forks and spoons. Making a campfire is already an elating thought but what do you cook on it, easy yet tasty and filling. Outdoor life makes you hungry. Preparing food for the outdoors is a skill on itself and really something to think about. You need to bring foods with you and that require some planning. Any perishables need a reasonable shelf life to keep you going for a couple of days. Likely you will not be able to pick something up easily. Preparing food in the outdoors is fun when you are well prepared.

Cooking Tools

Tools and Utensils: 

When you go for a weekend trip with a two nights sleep over, a few items plus forks and spoons are sufficient for an exciting open fire dinner experience. Obviously you need some help to light a fire, a cigarette lighter and a few old newspapers will do that trick. Imagine an open fire in front of you and you need to cook on it. Sounds like a challenge? It is. Here are a few useful items to look for:

Hand Made Fire Pit

1.       A rack on legs. This is a tool you will really need, look for a wire meshed one, if possible with foldable legs for easy transport while traveling. Place the rack over the fire and your barbecue is ready. 
2.       Long handle utensils help to keep your hands away from intense heat. 
3.       A cooler box to store and transport your food. 
4.       A pair of scissors. 
5.       Well prepared food.

Vacuumed BBQ Ribs
 Preparing food: 

Packing your food in aluminum foil and vacuuming is a way to go when preparing food for camping trips. Vacuuming will ensure that your food lasts for a few days. The aluminum foil packaging is a great tool for open fire cooking. Just remove the vacuum pouch and place the whole foil packet on your wire mesh rack. By vacuuming your food packs you can rest assure all the food is still where you put it in the first place just in case you had a bit of a bumpy ride to your camping destination.

Tin Foil Food Packets

Raw foods are a good choice for use in tin foil packets but bear in mind that food items like potatoes and carrots take a long time to cook. Pre-cook these items. Season the vegetables with herbs like rosemary and thyme, toss in oil and then pack in tin foil and vacuum. Sweet potatoes cook well on open fire when raw, so do zucchinis, tomatoes and corn. Tin foil packs are great for vegetables and potatoes. Meats work best barbeque style. Skewer your meats on steel barbeque skewers, vacuum pack separately. Ensure to cover the sharp tip with a piece of meat to avoid puncturing the vacuum pouch. Bananas and marshmallows on skewers will be well received by your kids. Do not vacuum those with full pressure or else they will be squashed.

Barbequed Ribs
Burgers, ribs and sausages are ‘super’ barbeque foods. Freeze your burgers before vacuuming, works superb to keep them in shape. Chicken pieces are also well appreciated barbeque items, use drumsticks, wings and thighs. Season with salt pepper, oil and spices or herbs and bring them vacuum packed in the cooler box. You will have plenty of time for all the fun activities, spend time with the kids and truly enjoy a memorable weekend. So be prepared and have fun!

Written by: Professional Chef Marinus Hoogendoorn